Hedge Wizards are what Collegiate Magisters call anyone who uses a very basic and adhoc form of largely self-taught spellcraft. It goes without saying that these so-called Hedge Wizards will probably never call themselves as such, preferring any number of humble or sensationalist titles (from healer, to Wisdom, to Elementalist, and so on). If not immediately condemned by their peers as witches, hedge wizards are most commonly referred to as “wyrds” across the length and breadth of the Empire. Collegiate Magisters tend to refer to self-taught petty magic users who practice in secret and yet come from wealthy and educated backgrounds as “magickers.”
There is no tradition of hedge wizardry, although there are some conventions of practice that are rumoured to have survived the centuries of persecution in some form or another. The most famous is perhaps the so-called Elementalist skein of hedge wizardry, which, according to Collegiate Magisters at least, is dangerous and misguided nonsense, completely misidentifying the source and nature of magic. Certainly no College of Elementalism has been sanctioned by civil or religious authorities, and the witch hunters are nothing if not determined in their pursuit of what they view as “self-aggrandising Witches.”
It is not likely that there was ever a formal school of Elementalism in the Empire, legal or otherwise. It would be almost impossible to have such a centralised institution without word of it leaking out and attracting the hounds and firebrands of the Witch Hunters (and probably the interest, if not wrath, of the Colleges of Magic). By merit of the fact that the hedge wizards have misidentified the source of magic, any so-called Elementalists would certainly end up drawing upon the Winds of Magic in uncontrolled and uneven amounts, and therefore use Dark Magic.
Magisters of the sanctioned Orders of Magic privately admit weak levels of magic can be drawn out of mundane things to create low level and petty spells. In fact, such Magisters sometimes draw upon it themselves to power the pettiest of spells. This suggests to those with the wit to see it that if there are hedge wizards and petty magickers hidden across the Old World who have somehow learned how to draw on this very low level and relatively safe “ambient” magic, in a consistent and structured fashion, they might make good protégés for the Colleges of Magic. In truth, Collegiate Magisters often go out of their way to follow-up any rumours that might come to their ears concerning such Elementalists with a mind of convincing or coercing them to join one of the Colleges of Magic. After all, anyone who can learn a dependable and relatively safe method of Channelling magic, even such weak and petty magic as the “ambient” magic that saturates the earth and sea, could prove to be a promising apprentice or a potentially very dangerous enemy should he ever be corrupted by the dark powers of the world.
If any such Elementalists are found, they will be given the choice of being tested to join one of the Orders of Magic, or executed, or worst of all, Pacified.